Moderate economic recovery seen

Kyodo

The economy picked up moderately in the three months through March, especially helped by recovering industrial output, the Finance Ministry said Wednesday.

A quarterly assessment by the ministry’s finance bureaus throughout the country said there remained differences over the pace of recovery depending on the area, but noted the economy as a whole showed a “moderate recovery,” the same evaluation as was used in the previous quarter.

Out of 11 regions, three were upgraded, including earthquake-hit Tohoku, where reconstruction work accelerated, as well as Tokai, a key manufacturing base. Views on the remaining eight were kept on hold.

Production picked up on robust sales of cars and smartphones, the ministry said.

Automakers, which had suffered from slowing production and exports due to the flooding in Thailand last fall, benefited from the government’s economic stimulus, including the subsidy program for the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles. Recovery in exports to the U.S. and spillover effects via relevant industries added to the momentum.